At 4:20am the alarm went off on Saturday morning and although I had about 4 restless hours of tossing and turning I jumped outta bed. I was finally going to find out how far along my marathon training really had come. Today was the Just A Short Run 30K in Allentown, PA.
I was out the door and on my way to meet MN at the coffee shop by 4:45am. We had planned on meeting at 5:15am sharp! I did not want to be late. As I drove I began worrying I had forgotten my gloves and my headband so I rummaged through my gear bag, until, voila, found them. Traffic was super light, but there was a bad accident on the freeway and all but one lane was closed so I quickly squeezed by. The rest of the drive was uneventful and as I was flying down Fairmount Blvd about .5m from the shop my phone said 5:14am. Dammit, I always feel like the white rabbit in "Alice in Wonderland", bustling here and there and always in a hurry. I pulled in exactly at 5:15am, about 30 seconds before MN. I jumped in her car and we were on our way before 5:20am.
The drive was surprisingly quick and we made great time. MN and I both wanted to make a pit-stop at the McDonald's before heading into the park. I also bought some H2O and wolfed down a Nutri-grain bar. I had also eaten oatmeal and coffee earlier, but this was a long race for me, so I wanted to be completely fueled. MN found a VIP parking spot right across from the registration area so we were able to avoid the shuttles and/or long run to the start. YAY! Excited we jumped out of the car and headed down to get our gear.
OMG!! It was supposed to be in the low 30's, but it was in the 20's and it was cold. Immediately, I began rethinking my racing attire. I could be too cold for a mile or so, before heating up, but not the entire race. It was over 18 freaking miles!! But then again, I couldn't be comfortable for 3-4 miles and then start roasting like a pig for the next 15+ either. Ahh, the life and death situations of a runner ;-) Help came from a gentleman standing in shorts behind me. He said I'd be fine in my current attire once the sun came up. I breathed a sigh of relief and opted to wait it out. I picked up my chip, bib and race bag. Bet you can't guess the number...yep that's right....888....that's me today! We headed back to the car to get changed and I donned my new racing jersey from Achilles over my dri-fit shirt. I thought, "I am on a racing team this year and I better not f#ck up this race." We stopped at the bathroom again and headed out for a 2 mile warm-up. We ran a small part of the course that was fairly flat. I had checked the elevation maps and knew there was a big hill around mile 2 and a few rollers throughout. The course was one loop of 3.6 miles and 3 loops of 5 miles. There were a little over a 1000 runners today. I figured most were in the 1/2 mary, but I knew there would be a hundred or so in the 30k. I was really getting nervous now. I told MN I had to go to the bathroom again. What was wrong with me. I never have to pee this much before a race. Had I overhydrated myself? Was I doomed to pee my pants sometime today? I hit the porta-john again. The announcer was calling for racers to get to their proper starting areas as the 1/2 mary and 5k runners were to start a half mile farther up than the 30K runners. The race was going to start late... oh God... I had to pee again. MN must have thought I had a leak in my bladder. I hoped when the race started my nervousness would subside and I would not have the urge to pee every 5 minutes otherwise it could make for a very, very long race.
The 30K runners gathered behing the enterprise van shaking and jittering before the start of the race. The director came over and finally that word we had all been anxiously anticipating was hear.... GO!!! I hit my garmin and was off. It was a little tight at the start, but I needed to run an easy pace so it helped keep me from running too fast. MN and I got seperated almost immediately, but we managed to exchange good lucks. I checked my pace...sub-8:00. Oh geez, you're not running a 5k, slow the heck down. It was hard, I was psyched. It was a beautiful day and everybody was happy and you could just feel the excitement.
Mile 1 was pretty flat and went by unbelievably fast. I checked my Garmin...8:26. That was a little too fast. The plan was to run the first 7 miles between 8:45-9:00 minutes, the next 7 between 8:30-8:45 and the last 4.6 miles were to be whatever was left in the tank. Too many, too often go out too hard and die. This was a "B" race for me. My goal was to run a smart race, be patient and negative split it.
Side note: I have been running for 3 years now and seem to be having what most refer to as a "breakout year." I want to focus on learning what running is all about. This year I want to
-negative split my races
-learn how to surge and break away from runners that are trying to stay with me
-hold onto those that are trying to do the same thing to me
-remained focused on my race, form and breathing without letting my mind wander
-always remind myself that running is a luxury/gift and never forget it
Ok back to the race. Mile 2 according to the elevation chart had the one steep hill. We were already climbing and I asked, "is this the hill?" Someone next to me responded "yes." Oh well, this wasn't bad at all, but then we made a left turn and there it was. The guy had been wrong. The hill still lay ahead and it was definately steep. Here is where we began catching a large number of 1/2 marathoners and 5ker's. I relaxed and took the hill as easily as my body would let me. My breathing did not seem to be labored at all as I reached the crest and turned for the also steep downhill. I don't particularly care for steep downhills anymore than the steep uphills either. I hate hurt my leg badly on a downhill at the Akron Mary a few years ago and to this day I am still wary how deceptively damaging they can be. I leaned back and could hear my feet slapping the ground like a duck. Uuuggghhh! Mile 2 was 9:07. Not bad. 2 miles down 16.6 to go.
The next mile was forgetable and flat. All I know is I circled back to the start and before I knew
it, there was 3.6 in the bank and only three, 5 mile loops remained.